Author Topic: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair  (Read 1025 times)

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The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« on: April 16, 2014, 06:35:51 PM »
"Truth be told, we all do it because we know nothing else. 
Men like you and I, Sithican. . . we were made into weapons.  Once
 steel has been worked into a weapon, it is scarcely remade into
anything else but a taker of lives.  My pay?  Your Service?  Excuses for
us to do what we were born to do, my friend.  To kill.  To use our skills
to raise greater men to victory."



At last, the winter was fading away.  As the spring plants came in and the people took back to the streets, Gilos remained at his usual post when he was not needed by his employers - the closest inn with the cheapest drinks.  People would often come and go, reacting to his presence with anything ranging from mistrust to a strange camaraderie.  There were those who swore he was in service to a slaver, and held him responsible for his employer's perceived crimes.  There were those who sought his help in their travels, and offered him payments of gold or trinkets to accompany them in their own designs.  There were still yet those who simply wanted to share a drink with a fellow mercenary, as they find themselves so far from home and so devoid of their own machinations. 

It was a strange life, that of a sellsword.  They rarely used their own names, because it helped them remain at a comfortable arm's length and friends were not a luxury that a mercenary could spare.  He had his employer, his enemies, and his brothers in arms, and he didn't much see a need for anything else.  He had grown to enjoy the company of his new brothers over the last week.  The Sithican was always an interesting conversation, so foreign in his ways.  The Barovian was more simple, more savage, but he had to give him a nod for his dedication to his contracts.  The King-in-Chains had his highest respect, purely for the martial prowess he displayed on the battlefield.  His dedication to his master was admirable, but it was his unrelenting skill and complete fearlessness that he respected the most.  As for Gilos, he just did what he was told, trying to carry out his orders as best as he could.  This was the best employer he had ever landed, and he was not about to lose such a lofty contract due to laziness.   It had been dangerous work, dealing with the angry dead and the bitter living both.  But as he so often said, he could never truly enjoy a conquest without a bit of a struggle.   Yes, he would carry out his orders to the end, and if his time came soon, he would happily die on his feet in the frenzy of combat. 

Of course, he had no death wish.  He was not an old man yet, and rather enjoyed how he currently found himself in life.  But he knew his time would come one day, and had accepted it.  He detested the thought of growing old and frail, and needing others to care for him.  He did not want to live to see his body wither and crumple while he was trapped inside it.  No, Gilos would serve his place for one employer or another until he finally met his match, and that would be the simple end.  Until that day, he would take as much strong drink, and as many women for himself as he could.  At least, that is, while he was not serving his place in the fires of combat.  He had but one short, glorious life, and he intended to make the most of it.

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Re: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2014, 04:47:18 PM »
We travel lands both far and near,
The bitter cause of widow's tears,
What liars claim they feel not fear?
It's men like us, soon dead, my dear.



  The mornings were always the hardest part.  Sleeping?  That was simple.  He was worked to exhaustion with each day - they all were.  But as each morning came and the peace of sleep faded away, he was confronted with the harsh reminder that he was only human.  He had been pushed further in the last week than ever before, and his muscles ached in protest as he began his morning routine of washing and preparing himself.  He would clean his gear and make necessary adjustments to his kit as his body slowly became accustomed to the waking hours.  A shot of stiff drink always helped to take the edge off as well, and as such, a flask is usually within an arm's length during the morning routine. 

  After making himself ready for the day and numbing his mind to the aches and bruises that plagued his body, he would don his armor and meet up with his employer.   The market hours were often long, and he would keep silent watch the entire time.  It was by far the easiest of his assignments, and he somewhat enjoyed the mindless nature of the task as it allowed him time to relax and watch those who passed through.  He had something of an eye for the adventurer women, who had taken to wearing attire that he was convinced had no protective value despite looking like armor.  A full plate with the upper chest unprotected?  Platelets with the thighs exposed, or replaced by rather sensual looking thigh-high boots?  He would not complain, the aesthetics were top notch and he always enjoyed a bit of flair.  He would be surprised, though, if a woman in such combat attire lasted very long.  A shame.  Many of them struck him as having an exotic beauty, even to a man accustomed to the wide selection that Darkon offered.  Perhaps it was the morning's drink that was swaying him, but he could almost understand why Souru chose to spend his time in the company of gypsies and women.

   And yes, Souru.  An interesting brotherhood between the two, despite their paths leading separate directions in the past few days.  They were so foreign to one another, yet quite the same at heart.  Gilos had always felt a sense of camaraderie to his fellow mercenaries, as they were the only men he felt he could truly relate to.  Until you sell your blade to another man's goals, and offer up your life for a cause that is not your own, you do not fully understand what it is to live each day as if it is your last.  It had given him a bold sense of perspective on his life, and brought a strange sense of peace to the idea of his eventual demise.  He knew that one day, any day really, he could fall.  In that light, he would not hoard his earnings and live a tight-fisted hermit.  He would not stash away his findings out of greed and fear.  No, he would indulge in all this life had to offer for as long as he could.  That was what he shared with his brothers.  A wonderful life of uncertainty.  A glorious flash of existence as a background to the plans of ambitious men.  History may be written by the kings and lords of a land, but it is by mercenary's steel that it was carried out.  It was a sellsword's blood that provided the ink.

   He was somewhat unsure what to make of his employer.  He was good to his word, which was the important thing.  He paid well, took care of his retainers, and had a sound mind for business.  He did, however, have a devil's silver tongue.  A great boon for their side often enough, but he often wondered what was being discussed in that Vaasi tongue of his when he spoke to his King and his Uncle.  He assured himself that he had nothing to worry over, and to focus on simply proving himself an asset too valuable to sacrifice, but the thought nevertheless lingered in the back of his mind.  In the end, he decided it was not worth worrying over.  There was nothing he could immediately do about it, and he didn't understand the foreign tongue, so in the end it was of little concequence to him what they were discussing.   He would simply take his orders and carry them out.  As long as he did that, he figured he would be safe enough.   Safe being relative, of course.  Having fought an infamous Red Widow and some manner of Necropolitan Arcanist in the past few days, the concept of worrying about something as trifling as a man speaking in a foreign tongue was almost amusing.

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Re: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2014, 05:38:12 AM »
Sellsword.

It wasn't a pretty term, nor was it one that garnered much respect.  Strange how people look down on a hired blade, but praise the soldiers who serve Lords as they fight to wrap their claws around the lands they own.  Were they not quite similar?  Men who simply follow orders, for gold or country?  For ideology or belief?  In the end, did it even matter why they all took up the blade?

He remembered back to his life back in Darkon.  How the people would look to him as he walked along the streets, a brave soul in the Constabulary.  But those days were long gone, and his life there was not one he sought to return to.  Serving under those men had left a bitter taste in his mouth that he was not eager to drink of again.

So he no longer bore a coat of arms, or any title other than Mercenary.  He drifted between employers, never quite staying long enough to develop real bonds with those he worked beside.  There were times he missed the brotherhood of his old guard, but something kept him from lingering on the memories for too long.  Perhaps it was fear of another betrayal.  Perhaps he was hiding his past away, in hopes that one day he could forget the wrongs committed against him.  

But then again, his mind would simply not let it rest.  He longed for a brotherhood more than the passing nods of respect exchanged among his ilk.  Perhaps when his current contract brought in enough coin, he would try.  Perhaps he could use the few connections he had made to assemble a team of wanderers, who were just as lost as he was.  Give them purpose, give them direction.  Or maybe it was more for himself than he cared to admit.

Of course, they would still just be sellswords.  Still just be Mercenaries.  But to them at least, it would be something more.  And in the end, is that not what truly mattered?
« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 02:40:10 PM by Legion XXI »

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Re: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 04:26:02 AM »
It wasn't often he had wine at the end of a day.  Business had been good lately, but his coin was tied up in debt for the equipment he'd recently added to his arsenal.  He cared little for the luxuries of fine drink when he could get something twice as strong for half the price.  But tonight was a special occasion.

His take from the job had been good, it was enough to pay off his debt and leave some to spare.  Though, as he tried to wind down in the inn with a hard drink and an eye on the scantily clad women, he couldn't help but feel nervous.  He had crossed a line, for sure.  He tried not to think about what he had done, he told himself it wasn't important.  He'd been paid, and that was that.  It was done.

But as the hours crept slowly by and he found himself too nervous to grow tired and sleep, a deep feeling of unease settled over him.  He was twitchy, unable to fully calm himself down.  He'd been on close calls before -  Faced down Red Widows and an Arcanist fit for a storybook tale.  Afterwards it was always difficult, but exhaustion would win out and he'd give in to sleep.   But something about this job was different. The people he 'defeated' were in no position to fight back, they never really stood a chance.  It was not hard.  He didn't conquer anything, there was no victory or satisfaction in what he'd done.  No, he'd taken a job because he was desperate to get out of debt, and now he had to live with what he had done.

Every day for the rest of his life, he'd have to live with what he'd done.  In that moment, the thought of it almost made him sick.

Surely it would get out.  Eventually someone would find him, and he'd answer for the sins committed tonight.  Perhaps when the time came, he'd welcome his punishment.  Perhaps he'd simply lay down his arms and hope for a swift journey to the Grey Realm.

But then again, what a waste that would be.  He'd come this far, and the only men that knew what he'd done were just as guilty as he was.   It wasn't pretty, but it was a foundation for everything he wanted.  This was the difficult first rung on the ladder to the top, and to back down now would be to surrender everything he'd done this for in the first place.  He wasn't happy about what happened, but there was nothing to be done about it now.

And so Gilos Sinclair was not done yet.  No, this was just the bloody foundation on which he'd build an empire of steel.

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Re: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2014, 03:55:57 PM »
Loyalty.  Never a more cunning deception has existed.

Never a more slanted contract has been signed, and never a more poisoned drink has been tasted.  How eager I used to be, serving under their banner in Martira Bay.  Shoulder to shoulder with my brothers, we brought law.  We brought order.  We were the walls that protected our city.

Or were we the rod that threatened those within?  How many times did we drag men into the streets to make a public display of the punishment?  Those men were wicked, and we were just remaining loyal to the cause we pledged ourselves to.  But in the end, that loyalty earned us nothing.  In the end, it was all just a cruel joke.  A sly trick to make us feel as if our service meant anything at all.  I should have seen those men for the serpents they were, but I didn't.

I didn't, and now I'm here.  Slowly finding myself shoulder to shoulder with those like me.  We'll forge something new, from the ash and the blood.  Raise a colorless banner, and pledge loyalty to the only worthy cause there is.

Ours.

The cause of freedom.  Of self.  The cause of taking as much of this life's offerings as we can, and damn whose hands it comes from.  Not many will understand.  They'll think us petty criminals, or thugs.  But damn them all, we are free men.  Free from religious code, from knightly bonds.  Free from allegiance to a Baron or Lord.  Free from the kings and all those who kneel to the crown.  We will serve many, but owe them nothing.  We will complete their tasks and be paid in their gold, but they will never own us like they do those eager soldiers.

Today, we are free men.  We may never live in houses of silver and gold, but I would prefer to die in a rotted pine box than to live forever in emerald shackles.  What sorrow I should feel for the bastard sons who sign on under the Flower's banner, for those knights are the same as all the others.  I worked for a Hazlani, I know a slaver when I see one.  And those who fight under the Flower wrap chains around each new uniform.  Enjoy your new rank and steel, recruits.  You paid for them with the only thing of value that you had.  Perhaps in time, you will find yourself separated and lost as I did.  Perhaps in time, you will realize you are a Jackal like the rest of us.

We all want to be free.  Problem is, only a few men really understand what that really is.  No law, no king, no order will ever make you free.  The only freedom you'll ever find is what you take for yourself.  The only security you can ever rely on is that which your own blade provides.  Forget your loyalties, young soldiers.  They'll do you no good where you are going.  Consider us wicked if you wish, but some day you're going to realize that the wicked men are the only ones telling the truth.

« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 03:58:15 PM by Legion XXI »

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Re: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2014, 03:23:32 AM »
Gilos sat in the grass, peering off toward the horizon as the dawn slowly clawed its way into the sky.  He was utterly drained of emotion -  his own thoughts silent for the moment as he aimlessly watched the sunrise.  He was physically exhausted, hardly daring to move as his body cried out in silent protest with each small shift in weight.

It had been hell, the past day.  The struggle between life and death.  The elusive climb toward success that remained ever beyond his reach.  It was never enough.

He closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath as the sun cast light on his dirt covered face.  The warmth was minor, only a flicker among the white snow that lazily drifted down around him, yet he enjoyed the moment. 

In this moment, it was not about victory, not about the take form the day's work.  Today, he was content to simply see the sunrise that he was so sure would be denied him by death's grey embrace.

The night had been unkind, down below the earth.  In the pits of the dead, among those who have not seen the light in many years, they fought.  Despite best efforts, despite all they had, they had failed.  They were driven back, many being cut down in the hasty retreat.  When their line broke, it had been a slaughter.  Efforts were made to reclaim the fallen, but by the time the dust had settled it was clear they had lost.  Most were dead, and those who lived were in no shape to fight.

They made easy prey for the wolves lying in wait.  Some stayed and fought.  Others were run down in an attempt to flee.  Gilos had escaped, ironically, by taking shelter in a tomb.  He spent most of the night with the dead, unsure if his wounds were so serious that they condemned him to join the ranks of withered bones interred there.  His eyelids were heavy, perhaps he would close them and wake in the Grey Realm.  Perhaps this was his final battle after all, and he would remain less than a footnote in the story of this land.  Or perhaps he was not done yet.  Perhaps he still had the strength left to stand.  To fight.  To take up his blades and face his fate on his feet. 

After a time, he forced himself onward.  His men were still out there, among the others they had seen fit to take along.  He was no hero, and when it came down to it, his Jackals were all that mattered to him.  He would see them home.

It was a long and bloody road, but in the end, he had them.  He owed a great debt to the only one who stood beside him in the final hours, a brave soul of a bear in the body of a man.  Perhaps one day he would find himself another more fitting shape.  Perhaps one day he would learn to turn himself into a Jackal.


But not today.  Today, they simply paid their respects to one another and parted ways.  Exchanged farewells and faded away to enjoy the morning in their own ways.

They were all stronger for what they had gone through last night.  Stronger as individuals, stronger as a team.  Maybe it was misplaced, maybe it was foolish, but he almost felt a sense of loyalty to those bastard sons and daughters who fought under his banner.  It still made him uncomfortable when they called him boss, but he trusted them with his life.  And that was more than he could say about anyone else he'd worked with in this land.

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Re: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2014, 03:25:17 PM »
And so it has come to this, as he always suspected it would.  The loss of two of his own reminded Gilos of all his fears, and provided all the justification he needed for what he was about to do.

What illusions they lived under.   In a way, he almost admired their sense of right and wrong.  Of loyalty, and of honor.  In a way, he almost respected them for it, because he was once the same way.

Of course, they were wrong.  Their ambitions so terribly misplaced, as his own once were.  Their loyalty put into a cause that will never appreciate their sweat and blood.  A cause that would strike them down in thanks for years of service.   That, coupled with the bitterness of failed investments in the both of them was enough to reassure him that he was doing the right thing in fighting under his own banner and no other.  It was as he told the others, refusing to take part in something does not make it cease to be.  It only means someone else is getting the coin for it.  Nothing in this life will be handed to you, and everything you gain has to be taken from somewhere else.  To pretend that a life of honest work under another man's banner is somehow noble is but a foolish notion.  All men of power are criminals, some just hide it behind roses and fine cloth.  Their greatest illusion is making you believe that by following their laws, tending their lands, you are 'Honest' or "Good".  What madness, to think that bowing knee to a king or god makes you just in your crimes. 

He wished they would see reason, but he would not plan on it.  He had already focused himself on his next task, the next rung of the ladder.  More would come along and lend their blades, it was only a matter of time.

For all that he was, Gilos thought himself honest at very least.  He did not hide his crimes behind false loyalty to Country, Faith, or Ideal.  He did not claim to be right or just.  He was truthful in that everything he did was to secure a living that the noble men and their gods would deny him.  To take for himself a life that would never be given to him freely.   This was the only honest way of living.

For yourself, and no one else.


"Audentes fortuna iuvat."

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Re: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2014, 04:27:07 AM »
"Look at them.  Look at them sitting there, so smug and sure of themselves.  They think they're better than you, no doubt.  . . .I bet. . .  I -know- they are plotting against you."

"Just a few more hours, Sinclair.  Stop fidgeting."

"You better prepare for that. . .   You better think it through. . . and be ready. . . for when they do it.  Maybe. . . you should do it before they do it."

". . .Is there something on your mind?"

"No one cares about you and they're all plotting. . ."


As quick as the voice came, it was gone.  Off to torment the Ezrite woman, speaking words of misplaced faith.  On to the next victim.  What was it that spoke the words?  She didn't have answers for him when he asked.  He knew he should dismiss it as nonsense, but the poisoned words refused to leave him.  How did this spirit gain the knowledge it had?  Was it but a guess?  The land is rife with legion, the Ezrite says.  Of course it is.  This land is rife with many different things, depending on who you've pledged your blade to.  The Barons, who will tell you Bandits infest the land and it's roads.  The Faithful, who will tell you sinners and legion claw at the living's heels.  The opportunists, who see gold in every hand and seek to take it for themselves any way they can.

What did he see?  That much was simple.  He had the next job.  Each day, that's all that mattered.  The next job.  He'd complete his tasks and he'd collect his pay.  All just steps on the ladder that would take him closer to where he wanted to be.  He tried not to worry himself over the specifics, because they'd do him no good.  A man could go crazy worrying over things he could not control nor fully understand.

As for his supposed allies, he would keep them close at hand.  Only a fool presents his back to an armed hand, even among friends.  He had met a woman he thought to be nearly insane, at first.  Speaking to her revealed something much more interesting.  Diluted by faith, but willing to cooperate.  An interesting sort indeed, not thinking herself above those who do not share her zeal for her strange god.  Her works of art were not to his fancy, but he expected no less of a zealot, and he had seen much more unsettling things in his time as a sellsword.

Each day was a new bend in the road - one he could hardly anticipate as his boot touched cobble again and again.  But it was one he would tread, either way.  A life on the blade's edge was the only life he knew, and the no-man's-land between the battle lines was the only ground his skills would ever have use in.  He was no craftsman, or trade-hand.  He didn't have the silver tongue of a merchant.  Gilos knew how to fight, and it was the only trade he truly felt at home in.  At least on the battlefield, he knew who his enemies were.

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Re: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2014, 12:38:48 AM »
"So it seems there really is no honor among thieves."
He would have done the same thing to me.  I do not regret my betrayal.  My survival.

"How do you do it?  How do you make yourself just. . .  not feel?"
If only it were so easy.  If only I could forget what blood has stained this sword.  We all wear masks.  Some just hide more behind them than others.

"She told me to go for what I wanted."
Primus walks an interesting line, giving advice as she does.  I find myself wondering what is in it for her.



Another day, on the edge of the blade.  Sometimes I wonder what I'll do when it's over.  When all of this finally ends.  Truth is, it's never going to bloody end.  There are days I ask myself, how much?  How much until I have enough, and I can retreat away to grow old and tell tales of everything I've seen?  But I know that day will never come.  People like us are not for that world, we're a different breed of man.  Most of my life has been lived in this trade, and my hands wouldn't know what to do without a sword to hold.  The truth is that it's never going to end, because I'll never give it up.  We'll fight shoulder to shoulder, these men or others, until there are no more fights left.  Or until we die.  

And it does not appear this world will be running dry of blood to spill any time soon.

It's freeing, in a way, to know that you don't have to plan too far ahead.  When any job could be the last, you tend to care more about each minor detail.  The lives you take mean something to you.  The value of each take weighs heavier on you.   The wine and women that are now within your grasp are so much more exotic than those promised to a man with a long life.  What a curse, to know that you will live to see your own skin shrivel around your form, and your bones grow frail, and your strength fade.  To see Death's long claws wrap around your chest, tightening with each breath you release, only allowing you half the breath you took before.  And half again, and half again.  Until there is nothing left but ash and bone.  I will leave no legacy when I am gone, save for the stories told.

And so with each day, I fight the pull.  The endless hours of practice and technique, of careful steps and deadly thrusts, serves to extend what time I have.  They're plotting, I know they are.  These ideas of loyalty, of trust, of faith - they are not mine.  I can trust a selfish man, in that I know he will ally with me as long as it serves him.  He hides behind no code or cause, and is the only kind of honest person I have ever seen.  But those who defend the innocent?  Who take up the banner of the deserving?  Well, perhaps I would do the same.  That is, if I ever met an innocent man who's hands were clean of blood.  If I ever met any more deserving than myself.  A simple question, I ask.  A simple question that causes so much trouble.  

"Why not me?"

Is my cause somehow less because I do not bed in a castle?  Because I do not have others to work my land and fight my wars?  Is my cause less because my name is not that of a king?  I may not be an honorable man, but at least I'm an honest one.  I give no illusions about who I fight for, and make no excuses for the blood I spill.

I only wish Lierra and the others would understand why.  Why I still arm myself when people approach with smiles and kind words.  Why I always suspect an ally's hidden blade or a traitor's warm smile.  Learn while you can, Lierra, before you too are left to the wolves.  Because they will do it, in the end.  When the night grows dark, you don't worry about the people you can't see.  You defend yourself.

I respect your dedication.  Your persistence.  Your loyalty.  But I still think it is misplaced.

Misplaced in a man covered in blood, who expects you to end him one day.  Maybe because you're the only one who could get close enough to actually do it.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 12:41:32 AM by Legion XXI »

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Re: The Dogs of War - Gilos Sinclair
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2016, 03:34:45 PM »
(bumping so it doesn't get deleted, still a work in progress)